Valentine Diners - Business
The history of Valentine diners is complicated because many different businesses were involved throughout the years.
It is Arthur Valentine's name that the company bore and which has endured through time, but the construction of prefabricated diners in Wichita did not begin with him. The Ablah family preceded Valentine in making prefab buildings, and is clearly part of the company's history. Hayes Equipment probably turned to "prefab" buildings before teaming up with Arthur Valentine. Throughout the years, Valentine employees have formed separate companies for reasons that aren't always clear, but probably were related to the company's financial problems. They are all part of the Valentine story.
Businesses in Valentine History
This hamburger chain began in Wichita in 1921. The Wichita Eagle reported on March 1, 1928, that White Castle construction engineer Lloyd C. Ray had created a movable steel building, the first being placed in the city at Hillside and Douglas. The size was 24' x 12', and 12' high. Each building was equipped with the fixtures needed to run a White Castle shop. This was the beginning of White Castle's Porcelain Steel Buildings subsidiary. In Wichita, it appears White Castle's success led not only to its competitors selling hamburgers, but also producing portable steel buildings.
Ablah Hotel Supply Company
During the 1930s, Ablah Hotel Supply was located at 205 North Water in Wichita. The Ablah family was known for taking risks on business matters, and this included the manufacturing of prefabricated metal buildings and running a system of lunchrooms. Buildings also were constructed for Arthur Valentine's lunchroom system and, as a result of this connection, he became a salesman for Ablah. By the end of the decade, though, the Ablahs had given up the "prefab" business and allowed Arthur Valentine to take on the building of diners.
View catalog image (front cover)
View catalog image (interior)
View catalog image (back cover)
View photograph of Shamrock Lunch (built by Ablah) at Hutchinson, Kansas
Hayes Equipment Manufacturing Company
Incorporated in July 1924 by Edmond P. Hayes, this company was in the business of making filling station equipment at 624 East Gilbert in Wichita. Hayes may have manufactured prefabricated metal buildings before Arthur Valentine approached him about building diners in the late 1930s. Unable to survive the material shortages of World War II, the business had closed its doors by December 1942. Perhaps, too, it was having difficulties in the economic climate of the 1930s, and the war was the last straw. The company's last entry in the 1942 Wichita City Directory indicates it was making portable restaurant equipment in addition to filling station equipment.
View photograph of diner being shipped (first image)
View photograph of diner being shipped (second image)
View photograph of gas pump at Osage City, Kansas
Valentine (Lunch) System
Arthur Valentine instituted a series of lunchrooms in south central Kansas by opening the first in Hazelton, probably in the mid-1920s. Valentine catalogs claimed Arthur eventually owned and operated as many as 50 lunchrooms during this time period. In the late 1930s Arthur had an agreement with Hayes to produce his diner buildings and, according to the 1941 Wichita City Directory, the location for the Valentine System is given as 624 East Gilbert--the same address as the Hayes Equipment Manufacturing Company.
View photograph of Shamrock Lunch at Hutchinson, Kansas
View photograph of Valentine's first lunchroom, at Hazelton, Kansas
Metal Building Company
The principal shareholders in this company, incorporated on October 26, 1932, were Edwin Bradley and Charles Fox. The October 26, 1933 issue of the Wichita Eagle reported they were the agents for the Martin Perry Company of New York, which had constructed a building for the Valentine System in Wichita. Metal Building's offices were located at 1101 Brown Building. The company was out of business by the end of December 1935.
Valentine Catering Company
It is uncertain if this is one of Arthur's companies--he wasn't a shareholder--but the timing does coincide with his lunchrooms and the arrival of the Metal Building Company structure. Incorporated in Wichita in December 1932, the business was dissolved three years later.
Valentine Fixtures, Inc.
Arthur started this restaurant fixtures company at 620 East Gilbert in Wichita (adjacent to Hayes Equipment Manufacturing), incorporating it in September 1941. The problem of material shortages during World War II probably led to the company's dissolution in November 1942--about the same time Hayes Equipment Manufacturing Company closed its doors.
Valentine Industries, Inc.
Anxious to get back into business following the dissolution of Valentine Fixtures, Arthur set up Valentine Industries after World War II in late 1945. Having lost his old partner, Hayes Equipment Manufacturing, another arrangement was made with H & H Parts of Wichita to produce the buildings. Offices were at 800 North Main. After Valentine Manufacturing incorporated in 1947, Valentine Industries remained in the hands of the H & H officers. It was not dissolved as a corporation until May 1985. The stated nature of the business, according to reports filed with the Kansas Secretary of State, was the exchange of real estate and property.
View patent drawings for "Roadside Shop," Valentine Industries
H & H Parts Company, Inc.
This company was incorporated in February 1946, and Valentine quickly arranged to have it build prefabricated metal diner buildings (catalog image). Two of the officers of H & H, James Saunders and Ralph Helt, also served as officers in Valentine Industries. This lasted only into 1947, when the two companies parted ways, with H & H turning to the construction of aircraft parts. Changing its name to M.E.K.O., Inc. in the 1980s, the company went out of business in early 1994. H & H was located at 1234-1236 Wellington Place in Wichita.
View H & H catalog cover
Valentine Manufacturing, Inc.
By incorporating this company in March 1947, Arthur Valentine finally had all aspects of business--fixtures, buildings and trucking--under one roof. Offices first were located at 307 North Main, with a factory at 317 East 18th. Offices and factory eventually moved to 1446 Barwise. Arthur's health began to fail in 1951, and his involvement in the company thereafter diminished until his death in 1954. The business was sold to the Radcliff family in 1957 and continued to operate until August 1968. The Radcliffs moved the company to 1020 South McComas.
View McComas plant (front)
View McComas plant (back)
View catalog image, early 1950s (front cover)
View catalog image, early 1950s (floor plan, Master model)
View catalog image, early 1950s (transporting diner)
View catalog image, late 1950s (front cover)
View catalog image, late 1950s (transportation)
View catalog image, late 1950s (floor plan)
View catalog image, late 1950s (Double Deluxe model)
Security Manufacturing, Inc.
This short-lived company arrived on the scene during one of the rough spots in Valentine history. In the early 1950s, Arthur was in poor health and less involved in business affairs, and Valentine Manufacturing was in financial difficulty. Incorporated in February 1951, Security Manufacturing had as its officers several Valentine employees--Boyde Kyle, Cecil Stafford, Julius Jacobs and Robert Dalton--who perhaps were keeping their options open in case Valentine failed. The 1952 Wichita City Directory lists them as restaurant suppliers at 1444 Barwise. Unfortunately, Security was dissolved in June 1952.
Pyramid Manufacturing, Inc.
Later known as Valentine Division of Pyramid Manufacturing Company, Inc., this company was started by Valentine employee Robert Dalton and incorporated in June 1959. Apparently, it was in competition with Valentine Manufacturing in the manufacture of portable steel buildings, carry-outs, and service stations. In 1968 Pyramid bought out Valentine. The business was dissolved in 1973.
View Pyramid catalog (front cover)
View Pyramid catalog (cook station)
View Pyramid catalog (Burger Bar)
View Pyramid catalog (A-frame)
View Pyramid catalog (Mansard)
View Pyramid catalog (Coffee Shop)
View Pyramid catalog (sales pitch)
View Pyramid catalog (back cover)
Incorporated in June 1963 by Robert Radcliff, Dyna-Co lasted only until August 1967. The 1967 Wichita City Directory lists the company as a sales promotion service located at 1020 South McComas, and it appears that Valentine Manufacturing was a division of this company.
View Dyne-Quik catalog (front cover)
View Dyne-Quik catalog (interior 1)
View Dyne-Quik catalog (interior 2)
View Dyne-Quik catalog (back cover)
View Car Wash catalog (front cover)
View Car Wash catalog (interior 1)
View Car Wash catalog (interior 2)
View Car Wash catalog (back cover)
Perhaps an attempt by long-time Valentine employees to keep the old company going, this business was led by Boyde Kyle and incorporated in April 1973. The partnership was dissolved in January 1975.
View catalog image (front cover)
View catalog image (floor plan, Roadside)
View catalog image (floor plan, Double Deluxe)
View catalog image (floor plan, Quick Food)
Pyramid Equipment Company, Inc.
Incorporating in 1973, this probably was an attempt by Robert Dalton to reorganize and salvage what he could of the Valentine Division of Pyramid Manufacturing. Pyramid advertised complete food service equipment installations. The business started at 1020 South McComas, and moved to 150 North Osage in Wichita where it closed in July 1978.
Valentine Buildings, Inc.
The last attempt to keep the "Valentine" name, this company was organized by T. R. "Tommy" Thompson. Incorporated in April 1974 at 1020 South McComas, it was gone by July 1975.
Starflite Manufacturing Company, Inc.
(formerly Starflite Buildings, Inc.)
Former Valentine employee Larry Perry incorporated the company in September 1975 (although it is listed in the 1974 Wichita City Directory) and continued making and refurbishing Valentine-type buildings as well as restaurant fixtures. The company is still in business in Wichita.
View catalog image (remodeling portfolio)
View catalog image (flier)
Atlas Products Corporation
One last attempt made by Robert Dalton, incorporating in January 1978 but out of business by July 1980.
Explore the Valentine story:
- Find Valentines in Kansas
- Find Valentines in other states
- How can you tell it's a Valentine?
- History of Valentine diners
- Arthur Valentine biography
Entry: Valentine Diners - Business
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: July 2014
Date Modified: July 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.